13 Must-Read Books for Book Week 2023
22 August 2023
Read, Grow, Inspire. This year’s Book Week theme is all about fostering future creatives. To give your child the best start in their creative journey, check out our list of 13 must-read books for Book Week 2023 👇
Book Week has exploded in popularity in recent years with school and library events, activities, and dress-up parades taking centre stage. However, it’s important to remember the true purpose of Book Week which is, of course, reading!
This year’s Book Week theme – Read, Grow, Inspire – perfectly illustrates the importance of reading and engaging with stories from an early age. In fact, experts suggest that reading with toddlers promotes bonding and builds lasting relationships.
To celebrate Book Week 2023, we’ve compiled a list of 13 books that every child should read. The stories vary from rhyming cats to wombat stew, while also planning a costume or two!
1. How the Birds Got Their Colours by Mary Albert and Pamela Lofts
This Dreaming story is a wonderful introduction for children into the incredible world of Indigenous Australian culture. Mary Albert, a woman of the Bardi people, beautifully combines retellings of Dreamtime stories and children’s paintings to form a mosaic of Indigenous heritage.
If you have a passion for the more extravagant costumes, honour this important story by dressing your child as their favourite bird – just make sure to use plenty of colour!
2. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
At just 224 words long, Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar has endured as a bestseller for over 50 years. Carle’s story cleverly teaches children the days of the week, counting, patterns, and healthy eating while also being a captivating read for adults.
The best part of this costume is its simplicity. All you need is a stripy green shirt and a few materials to make the crown. Alternatively, there’s plenty of The Very Hungry Caterpillar costumes in stores or online.
3. The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
One look at The Rainbow Fish proves it’s a book like no other. Pfister’s ingenious use of holographic foil for the shimmering scales meant this book was destined for greatness. But like the Rainbow Fish himself, it’s about what’s beneath the surface. Take a journey of self-discovery with your child and delve into The Rainbow Fish to learn all about sharing and the power of friendship.
Dress your child as the glittering Rainbow Fish complete with shiny scales, and use the opportunity to discuss the importance of kindness and generosity.
4. Wombat Stew by Marcia K. Vaughan and Pamela Lofts
Marcia K. Vaughan’s Wombat Stew seamlessly intertwines Australian wildlife into a story of teamwork, cunning, and whimsy. This is one to read aloud with its captivating illustrations and unique rhymes!
Grab a onesie and encourage your child to dress up as a mischievous wombat, a cheeky dingo, a friendly platypus, or any of the other Australian animals featured in Wombat Stew. The best part about this is it also reduces waste as they’ll get plenty of use out of a cosy onesie in the colder months.
5. Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
Mem Fox’s enchanting tale of an invisible possum is an unforgettable celebration of Australia’s native wildlife and the need to preserve them. Even better, both Mem Fox and illustrator Julie Vivas are Australian, so you’re supporting local authors while enjoying this timeless Aussie classic.
Invite your child to dress up as Hush, the invisible possum, or her friend Grandma Poss. This is an opportunity to get creative with stars, face paint, and props!
6. Neil, the
Boring Amazing Sea Cucumber by Amelia McInerney and Lucinda Gifford
Did you ever think you’d reach for a story starring a sea cucumber? This hilarious aquatic story is one for children and parents alike. Through deadpan delivery, plenty of puns, and smooth illustrations, this is one your child won’t soon forget.
The beauty of this costume is its simplicity – all you need is some glasses and plenty of green!
7. The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Take a stroll with a mouse in a deep dark wood. The Gruffalo endures to this day as a regular on children’s bookshelves, thanks to its clever turn of phrase, striking illustrations, and clever storytelling.
As for costumes, there’s so many animals to choose from in The Gruffalo! While a costume of the Gruffalo himself may be a bit too crafty for some, there’s plenty to work with for the mouse, snake, owl, or the silly old fox!
8. Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley
Jackie French’s Diary of a Wombat took home the Young Australian Readers’ Award, Kids Own Australian Literature Award: Best Picture Book, and so many more. Like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Diary of a Wombat cleverly teaches children the days of the week and even the times of the day.
Dress your child as Mothball the sleepy wombat – just be sure to bring plenty of carrots for props.
9. The Rainbow Serpent by Dick Roughsey and Percy Trezise
This Dreamtime classic is a must-read for children to broaden their understanding and appreciation of Indigenous heritage. The Rainbow Serpent is a cornerstone of Aboriginal traditions, with land rock art depicting the brilliant serpent more than 6,000 years ago!
To spread the word of this important cultural story, dress your child as the titular rainbow serpent! Just remember to be mindful and respectful of cultural traditions when dressing your child as this iconic figure.
10. Respect by Fay Stewart-Muir and Sue Lawson
This important book teaches children about the oldest living civilisation, the importance of respecting others, and the unending beauty of nature from the flickering stars to the red earth.
Dressing to convey the natural beauty of Australia fits for this wonderful story. From the scarlet robin on the cover to a cunning crow, there’s plenty to chose from in this moving tale.
11. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Despite being written in the 60s, Maurice Dendak’s Where the Wild Things Are has endured as a must-read children’s classic to this day. With a short film, an opera, a video game, and a feature length film based on the book, there’s a reason this story has remained in the public consciousness for decades (and showing no signs of slowing).
Encourage your child to don Max’s crowned wolf suit or go all out and make a Wild Things costume complete with horns, fur, and bulging yellow eyes. This one will make for some unforgettable snaps for the photo album.
12. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
Today you are you, that is true. There is no one alive who is youer than you. We could have chosen from dozens of iconic Dr. Seuss quotes and tales, which really need no introduction. However, it’s hard to pass the iconic classic of The Cat in the Hat. This colourful masterpiece teaches children about counting, rhyme, and the virtue of honesty.
Get out the whiskers and grab a stripy red hat to dress your child as the mischievous Cat in the Hat and enjoy the rhymes together. Conversely, dress them up as any character in the Seuss books – just don’t forget the green eggs and ham!
13. The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit regularly features in top children’s book lists, despite being written over 100 years ago! And this enduring legacy is for good reason. Few books have illustrated the dangers of adult life and the consequences of our actions quite like Peter Rabbit’s venture into McGregor’s woods.
Peter Rabbit, Mrs. Rabbit, Farmer McGregor; there’s so many costume choices from this wonderful book – just don’t be surprised if your little one wants a pet rabbit after this Book Week!
Why Is Reading Important for Children?
Whether your child is into the fantastical, the everyday, or a story about a sea cucumber, reading is essential for growing minds. In fact, the Children’s Bureau of Southern California outlines 7 key benefits for reading:
- Supported cognitive development
- Improved language skills
- Preparation for academic success
- Developing a special bond with your child
- Increased concentration and discipline
- Improved imagination and creativity
- Cultivating a lifelong love of reading
So, be sure to encourage your child’s reading and writing habits, no matter what the genre or style. Read widely and nurture their interests as they to progress from picture books to middle grade and young adult. And most of all, try not to stress over the Book Week festivities! The costumes and events are all in service of the real meaning of Book Week – to read, grow, and inspire.